Life Without Hope

August 4, 2007

The process of hoping, wanting, and longing for things in the future is the great destroyer of life. Assuming ourselves to be incomplete and lacking, secretly or overtly suspecting there is something fundamentally wrong with us, we remain habitually expectant and fearful we will not get what we want. This is the process of self, the bondage of self. And it’s not just one “me,” it’s an endless stream of them, each with its own clingings and cravings and frustrations and disappointments, a massive river of mental scenarios and commentaries and emotional upheavals over whether “I” will get hold of whatever I want, whatever I think I need (at the time) for this completion, and whether I will be able to keep it.

In our hopes for love, happiness, peace, and freedom, we fixate on some “thing,” one-by-one, some object, like money, or sex, or power, or enlightenment, or some kind of personal recognition or acceptance, or some kind of relationship that we imagine will bring us permanent security, stability, joy and affection. But continually indulging in these hopes is precisely the process by which we block the discovery that we already are what we are so busy hoping for. In the Zen tradition, this is called “looking for the ox when you’re riding it.”

Where is joy, if it is not here, everywhere, right now?
Where is happiness, if it does not saturate every molecule of your being?
Where is infinite peace, if it does not contain your body, your heart, your mind, and the whole universe this very instant?

Can you drop all prior assumptions, and let, even for just a moment, your mind be completely open, curious, unpretentious, and not-knowing? Can you let your heart be spacious and without limits or blockage? Can you let your heart be turned inside out by the simple, radical, unexplainable, yet undeniable truth of it?

If you truly give up obsessing on the freedom you seek in so many future objects and experiences of physical, social, mental, and spiritual pleasure and security, you will realize you are freedom itself, and security itself, with no center and no boundary to be found anywhere. If you stop trying to get or become anything at all, you will realize you are compassion and happiness itself, and there never was anything that could ever limit or harm you. So it’s all up to you, of course, but if you stop hoping for anything, you can simply go ahead and let yourself be, completely, all that you already are. Nothing real is in the way.

-Scott Morrison-

What Love! What Joy!

August 4, 2007

What a splendid teacher is the Internet. How frail and temporary its magic! How wonderful that our letters touch each other so deeply, and then disappear! Are not our bodies, minds, feelings, and circumstances like this also? What is always here, when all of the rest of it fades, so easily and naturally, away?

-Scott Morrison-

Thinking About Awareness

August 4, 2007

Thinking about awareness is not awareness. It is only when the more or less continuous stream of memory and fantasy, of words, images, intentions, beliefs, opinions, emotions and associated physical sensations is seen clearly for what it is that the mind actually comes to a halt. For at least a few seconds, the meaninglessness of self-centered, obsessive thinking is exposed, and thought literally has nothing useful or honest to say. If it is not trivialized, this small but unmistakable window of opportunity is of enormous importance.

When you discover that self-centered thought (including all “spiritual self-centered thought”) literally means nothing at all, that there is no love, no happiness, no wisdom or intelligence in any of it, you have the opportunity to give yourself over, completely, to the process of truth, that is, awareness and unflinching, uncompromising, honest reflection. If you do that, if you do that absolutely, then the mind, with all of its craving and clinging, all of its monotonous, deceptive, repetitious, fearful and hurtful insanity, no longer has any power. In the absence of all vested interests, the power of this level of integrity and sincerity can shake the foundations of the entire universe.

Why not stop, now, and find out if that is really true?

-Scott Morrison-

“You” Is the Problem

August 4, 2007

If you observe and listen very carefully and honestly, you will notice that rarely does a moment go by without the arising of some sense of insufficiency, some kind of feeling that “something is wrong with me,” or “something is wrong with my life,” or perhaps even “something is wrong with the world.” Almost like lightening, it is quickly followed by “I know what I want” — I know what will get rid of this feeling of inadequacy and conflict — some material, financial, sexual, spiritual, social, political, circumstantial, or psychological “thing” that will save me from this uncomfortable feeling. That, in turn, is quickly followed by a massive circus of mental scenarios and mutterings, of desires, hopes, expectations, worries, fears, frustrations, and disappointments. Even if I get what I think I want, the sense of completion and relief is inevitably only temporary. Why is it like this?

What gets lost in the shuffle is the simple fact that all of it, the feelings of lack and incompleteness, and the endless remedies to the situation, are nothing but the play of memory and fantasy, the replaying of old mental video and sound bite versions of “me” and “my life.” All of it is nothing but fragmented thought, and in this there is no lasting relief, simply because thought is by nature fragmented and incomplete. Thought doesn’t know what you are, and it doesn’t know what your life is. It thinks it does with the same myopic arrogance, presumptuousness, and judgmentality of the evening news, but it has no more understanding of the whole organic interactional flow of life than television does. All thought can do is search its memory banks of static images and repetitious opinions (for or against), all of it accompanied by a vast deluge of emotional and physical responses as well as replays, heavily edited by motive, of interactions with other people and the environment. But there is no life and no love and no wisdom in any of it. Why? Because it is an escape and an avoidance of what is.

If you watch and listen to it for awhile, you will observe the whole history of humanity, our ignorance, dishonesty, and confusion, our insensitivity, violence, and cruelty to each other. Perhaps it will deepen your understanding and compassion for all sentient beings. It may be inevitable, though, that at some point you get will fed up with it, realizing what a stale, monotonous, meaningless distraction it is.

At this point, there may be an opening. If you are ready to come to terms with the simple fact that you do not know what you are, and you do not really know what the universe is, or what your life is, then the amazing, delicate, subtle and intricate truth of reality is free to reveal itself without bias. The constant interaction and transformation of all things will be self evident, as well as the infinite context in which it all happens. This is what you are! This is wonder and awe and blessedness itself.

-Scott Morrison-

The Quiet Joy of Simply Being

August 4, 2007

The practice of meditation is the practice of joy. If you sit quietly, and very, very still, or walk very slowly down a road or a path in the woods, and if you pay very close attention to what it is to simply be, what it is to let everything simply be as it is, you will begin to notice a deep joy pervading the whole world. When you give up clinging — liking and disliking, wanting and fearing, craving and hating — the universe is suddenly a very happy place, and there is a profound sense of relief. It’s really that simple. It may be easy for one person and difficult for the next, but who cares? Why not go all the way, whatever it takes? Which one of us really has anything better to do with this life? With this moment?

If you’re willing to completely let go, meditation is enlightenment itself, intimacy itself, freedom itself. Then everything is simply happening on its own, in a vast and endless Silence.

Why not stop and find out if that is so? Why not find out if that is so right now?

-Scott Morrison-

Freedom from Happiness

August 4, 2007

This is the paradoxical secret:

If you are not happy, then give up on happiness. Give up on getting or having or holding onto anything for yourself. Instead, surrender yourself unconditionally to the joy, happiness, peace, and freedom from suffering of everybody else, everywhere. Give yourself, completely, to affection and compassion. Then everywhere, there will be joy, happiness, peace, and freedom. The universe will be saturated with an unshakable confidence that only comes from purity and innocence. What happened to the division between “you” and “everybody else”?

-Scott Morrison-

To Be Awake and Alive

August 4, 2007

I’ve been busy the past few weeks looking for a house that I’d planned to buy and live in with my girlfriend. But it all fell apart last weekend after a good talk with a friend, when I decided that the house was just one more thing that wouldn’t make me happy and I’d have to put off a long retreat even further. My girlfriend is hurt and angry. She wants to get married next summer and instead I may be leaving for good. I feel like I hurt her by continuing to stay with her in this “half-in-half-out” state and will hurt her by going. Did you feel desperate when you started on your path?

There is a possibility that I could do a three-year retreat, Tibetan buddhist style, within the next couple years. But I am not sure if this is what I want to do. I’ve often thought that a year-long silent retreat would be best for now, but I don’t know where to do it. Where did you do yours? Today I talked to my lama about this, and he strongly suggested doing ngondro (preliminary practices before 3-year retreat) for a year on Salt Spring Island. Does it matter what I do? You seem to suggest a path of inquiry, but can you say more about what the path looks like?

You say that the time to wake up is now. That seems to be right, but while I am moved by your teaching and others, I have not woken up. I can envision attempting to remain in the world as I am now while trying to follow a path of awakening as best I can. But it’s painful and I feel like I’m avoiding my true life. I don’t want to do it. I want to “head for the hills” as my lama puts it. Even as I fear it’s some kind of avoidance. How do I decide what to do? As I read over this I see that I’m trying to convince myself that it’s okay if I have to leave. Thinking about that and thinking about [her] makes me want to cry.

I don’t mean for this to sound harsh, but it’s important for you to realize that you haven’t woken up because you haven’t really wanted to wake up. It hasn’t been enough of a priority. You have to want it more than anything else, and up until now, that hasn’t really been the case. Now, however, you may be at a turning point. That part is up to you.

There are several issues here, but they are closely related. In an attempt to set up a more convenient, predictable (and automatic) lifestyle in which we get what we imagine to be our basic needs, plus a few major wants, we habitually and systematically negotiate away our freedom. The reason you imagine you aren’t awake is that you have woven a web of self deceptive and contradictory patterns and desires that has ended up being quite painful. So now that pain is in your face, and it seems too difficult to look at. Yet the fact that it is unavoidable could very well be your salvation, your awakening bell, if you are willing to allow it to be so. If you are courageous enough to turn and face the pain, with no psychological defense whatsoever, truth will be allowed to tell its whole story. In this, you will realize that you have made your own free choices every step of the way. At this point, it may be unlikely that you can spare either of you any pain. What you can do, however, is act with as much sensitivity, integrity, compassion, and humility as possible. Let honesty, kindness and wisdom be your guide.

Furthermore, it’s not a matter of getting from “here” to “over there, where I want to be in the future.” There is no journey. It’s not helpful to continue imagining that “a path of awakening,” or radical inquiry, and “attempting to remain in the world” are anything but present thoughts, memories and fantasies. Do you want to be awake and free, right now? Do you want to be fully alive and intimate with all that is, here, now? Is that more important to you than anything else? That’s the only real question. The rest is all planning and speculation, a defense, a way of avoiding and trying to escape from what is. I’m not at all suggesting that a silent retreat in a secluded, natural environment might not be helpful. It might very well provide a clarifying and healing spaciousness that would make it easier to sort through things. It was certainly so in my case. Whether it is here or there, however, is not the determining issue. What is essential is that you find out who and what you are this very instant. Then you can employ any skillful means you like to deepen that realization. Without it, three years, or thirty years, in seclusion and practice will make little difference at all.

Again, the key question is, are you ready? Are you unconditionally ready for what is? What is, in nature? What is, in the city? What is, in a particular relationship? What is, in no particular relationship? What is, in spiritual practice? What is, in the absense of spiritual practice? Let everything be in service to that. It’s completely up to you.

-Scott Morrison-

Varieties of Experience and Sensation

August 3, 2007

Scott,

I have been following your insights for a few months now. They have been especially helpful to me since the events I describe below. I apologize for the length of this email. I suppose I can summarize my question as follows: should one continue to maintain simple awareness when one’s spiritual practice unveils disturbing and even disruptive realities beyond our everyday physical experience? As a result of “opening” to reality, much that is strange and potentially dangerous can come pouring in. I haven’t seen this possibility addressed in any of your messages.

In August, 1997, I searched the Internet and came across something called the Fourth Way. I investigated it, found a Gurdjieff group right here in _______, and by September, I was attending their meetings. I know from your page that you are somewhat familiar with Gurdjieff, so I’ll just tell you what I experienced. They meet once a week. Each meeting begins with a “sitting.” The sitting is a kind of meditation. It involves scanning, sensing, the body part by part. Sensing one’s physical body. It lasts for about 30 minutes. At the meeting, the sitting is guided by the leader. We were expected to sit at home each morning on our own.

Beginning in late September, I followed this advice precisely. I was very attentive at the meetings. We were told that we would eventually receive a flow of energy beginning at the top of the head, moving down the spine, coming up the front through the genital area and up the chest and the face. By November, I began to experience this flow. I was told that this was *very* early for a beginner; the average length of time for this to start, I was told, was after about 5 years of practice. I was thrilled and amazed. My former scientific atheism was definitely out the window. But then something bizarre started.

By the end of November, invisible hands began caressing me, touching me. They would touch my back, my head, my face. It was uncanny. I thought that these were spiritual helpers of some kind. They started to direct my movements, sometimes gently (always gently) lifting me to a standing position, moving my head to one side or back, etc. When I would go through periods of receiving the energy (and these periods could last for several hours), the hands often came. Then, they started some kind of construction project on me. They injected some kind of material into my forehead (apparently, my “third eye” had opened by now). They sprinkled and then spread some kind of material on my back and legs. I told my group leader about being “under construction” but she didn’t have much to say about it.

Things got more complicated in December. In addition to the hands, I was visited by what I can only describe as “creatures”. They seemed like a sort of animal. They would glom onto my legs and bite my toes!! At this point, I figured that all was not well. These creatures came mostly at night, and especially when I went to bed. I would feel something like a hot blob, very large, sucking on my leg, and along with that sensation there would be the biting of my toes. I figured that these were some kind of creature from another dimension, feeding off of me. I was strangely accepting of it. It didn’t freak me out that much, because at the time I thought this just went with spiritual advancement – an occupational hazard. The creatures would also bite the top of my head. And other creatures, which seemed somehow different, would sort of lick my face.

At the end of December, things took a turn for the worse. The hands, or at least *some* hands, actually began to sexually manipulate me. After this, the hands became more obtrusive and obnoxious. For instance, when I got on a plane to fly back to _______, they poked me in the behind. Stuff like that. When I would have my periods of energy flow, they would put their arm around my neck to block the flow, or put a hand under my chin to divert the flow.

I left a few things out of this account. One was the fact that the “entities” created some kind of electrical “plug” on my back that they would occasionally tap into, creating a kind of buzzing sensation there. The other thing was that they installed some kind of living thing, like a big worm, inside my torso. This living thing would move around inside of me. Fortunately, I don’t experience either of these phenomena anymore.

After Christmas, I was quite sure that my little friends were not angels from God. When I got back to _________, I told my group leader about them in great detail. She said that this was all beyond her experience, and suggested I speak to the leader that came from __________ once a month. When I talked to him in mid-January, he told me I needed to see a psychiatrist, and that my experiences had nothing to do with “the Work.”

I did see a psychiatrist, and I continue to see one. I don’t believe that these visitations are the product of psychosis, but the resulting depression and anxiety do require psychiatric care. I’ve been prescribed antipsychotics, and I take them, but it’s just to “cover my bets.”

After my conference with the Big Cheese from ____________, I went into a mild panic. I felt very isolated. I broke off contact with the __________ Foundation and stopped “sitting.” My experiences were too real to write off. And the fact that I had been fine until I started this meditation was just too much of a coincidence.

Eventually, I stopped feeling the hands. But up until very recently, I still felt something walking around on my bed, particularly at night. (I used to be able to feel both my little friends and the creatures approaching me when I sat on the bed – I felt the mattress being pressed down, although I never *saw* it go down.) Also, the energy stopped flowing. However, I still feel a constant movement at the top of my head. It simply will not go away.

One more thing I should mention. This is the only experience I’m unsure about. One afternoon in December, during the thick of things, I was home and decided to open my blinds to let the sun in. I usually keep them down. After awhile, I noticed across the courtyard of my apartment building a man standing there, perfectly straight, and staring directly at me into my apartment across the courtyard. He was in his 30’s, bearded, and wore a poncho (who wears ponchos these days? :-) ). All I can say is, you had to be there. His stare went right through me. At first I tried to ignore it. Finally, I approached my window. At that point, this gentleman turned to his right like a robot, and robotically walked away. I never saw him before and I haven’t seen him since. I’m not sure what to make of this experience. My current theory is that either he was some kind of possessed person sent to “greet” me, or he was an apparition.

I’m searching again for a spiritual practice. I’ve tentatively concluded that “centering prayer” (a form of Christian contemplative prayer), coupled with simple awareness during the day, should be my practice. But I have been troubled by what I’ve experienced, and I’ve lost trust in “what is” to a certain extent.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and, hopefully, respond.

Awareness is not something you do, it’s what you are. If you fixate on money, the world will seem to be about money. If you fixate upon sex, the world will seem to be about sex. If you fixate upon politics, the world will seem to be about dualistic power struggles. If you fixate upon violence, the world will seem to be violent. If you fixate upon physical or energetic sensations, or psychic phenomena, then that’s what will predominate in you, in your field of consciousness.

Being awake, being aware of what is, is not about any specific kind of experience. It isn’t about psychic or energetic experiences, although you may notice the arising of those from time to time. Obviously, if you devote a lot of attention to them, you can get lost in God knows what. My advice (along with the advice of every serious meditation school I know of) is: DON’T! The essence of spiritual awakening and realization lies in discovering your true nature: awareness, wisdom, love, and compassion, so I would give my full attention to them, rather than what my own experience tells me is, at best, a distraction.

Finally, I think your choice of Contemplative Christian practice, coupled with general mindfulness (open awareness) is a wise and excellent choice. The true path is the one that works, the one that clarifies and liberates. If something doesn’t seem to feel right, you can just let it go, as you have wisely done.

Continue to follow and trust your own heart. That is worthy of your deepest respect and attention.

-Scott Morrison-

Undivided Willingness

August 3, 2007

Dear Scott,

Thank you for doing this. I’ve never seen such clarity, honesty, and wisdom, on the Web or anywhere else. Yesterday’s posting about intentions stopped me dead in my tracks. Can you say more about True Motive?

The foundation of any serious spiritual path, any awakened and liberated life, is clarity of intention, purity of intention, integrity of intention, undivided sincerity of intention. We may say that our purpose is love and awareness, honesty and compassion, and maybe it feels good to think that about ourselves, but generally our motives are mixed. When push comes to shove, again, what is most important to you? If you want to be free, it means you want to be completely free, right now. If you want to be awake, you have to drop all pretense of dualism and separation, and allow yourself to be completely, naturally, effortlessly awake right now. If you want to know the pure, quiet joy and serenity that is love, you have to be completely willing to let go of all conditions, right now. Otherwise, you’re just fooling yourself with some sort of spiritual or personal dogma. As long as you imagine it’s in the future, even though it may seem to be sanctioned by certain spiritual teachers, teachings, or organizations, the fact is that you’re hiding something. You’re secretly playing religious or philosophical games while protecting some vested interest.

I’m not suggesting that you should judge or hate yourself for it. As human beings, we are just experimenting, trying to find out what works. But if your intentions are divided, it’s important to admit that to yourself, so that you’re not wandering around wondering why you don’t really seem to be happy or at peace. True Motive is pure cause and effect. If you cling to anything, anything at all, you are a slave to that thing. If you cling to nothing, then the universe and the boundless consciousness, the infinite silence that contains it, is simply and clearly what you are.

-Scott Morrison-

Song of the awakening heart

August 3, 2007

The Passion of Not Knowing

I no longer consider myself a “seeker”, although my life appears to be enveloped by “seekers”. Yet, I do seek an answer to this question. Accept that one has met their true Self. In this life they have gone beyond death in their search for ‘freedom/love’ and returned to this incarnation. One has accepted the infinite. How does one then find their divine calling? How they are to manifest the divine in this world? What is the creation from the divine that their particular incarnation was to bring forth? Or was the only purpose of this incarnation to know its Self and then die? It was so easy to plan, plot, and scheme, from the goal-oriented Ego, but now that illusion is shattered and the realization has set in that I am not that, then who or what am I? And what am I to do on this earth? I would like to stick around and see how it all turns out but what am I to do? So all of the above is precursor for this question: Enlightenment, Now What? If we sincerely want to know the truth about life, how things really are, we cannot assume anything. Otherwise, there is no real process of discovery, and we wander around endlessly in a world of subjective opinion, speculation, and confusion. Would you know your own Self this very instant? Do you have the courage, the integrity, and the passion to abide in this intimate, infinite unknown, with no props or fictions whatsoever? If so, you will quickly realize that questions like these, as sincere as they may seem, are a defense. If there is any doubt, stop, this instant, and relax into a simple, direct awareness that there is nothing that you can know in advance – nothing you can know about yourself, and nothing you can know about the universe. Any hope or assumption that you can is just the play of thought, of insecurity, of a futile desire to control and contain That which knows no limits or restraints. How honest are you willing to be? Are you willing to come to terms with the fact that you know absolutely nothing?

(Pause.)

What remains? What is always here? What is everywhere? You are This. It has no name and does not fit into any philosophy or religion, which are only constructs of memory, thought, and emotion. It does not fit into any ideas about your life or my life. You simply cannot fit that which is infinitely large into that which is static and limited.

Any assumption that I am supposed to be something, or that my life is supposed to be about something is a form of bondage and self deception, no matter how noble it sounds. What is my divine calling? God wants me to be a teacher, most likely an enlightened one, or a healer, or a philosopher, or some kind of saint or religious leader. The flip side of that is I am absolutely convinced that God does not want someone of my intelligence, knowledge, or experience to end up a janitor, a dishwasher, an accountant, a plumber, et cetera. The fundamenatal flaw in all of this is that the central concern is how I look, what they think about me, what my wife or my girlfriend or my potential lover or other people might feel about me, and so on. How could I ever explain that I’m not just an ordinary janitor – I’m a Self realized janitor(!)

Do you see the humor in it? If Gandhi, for instance, had been preoccupied with some self definition based on prestige, some label or image of himself as a lawyer or a religious or political leader, he might have never discovered, moment-to-moment, the passion that unfolded as the beauty and mystery of his life. In other words, as long as we are trying to write and rewrite the story of our lives, and as long as we are, overtly or surreptitiously, trying to solidify our reputation and make ourselves more powerful or respectable, we will never discover our passion.

In the absence of all such self centered ambition, if you completely open your heart and completely open your mind, you will find a passion so subtle and so deep and so tender, with everyone and everything, that the entire universe will weep with joy and gratitude. If you let everything be an expression of that passion, what you do will matter not at all.

-Your own Self-

 


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